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What is ‘blaccent’, and why is Awkwafina being criticised for it?

The Crazy Rich Asians star explained her use of 'blaccent', writing, "My immigrant background allowed me to carve an American identity off the movies and TV shows I watched"

Awkwafina, Awkwafina news, Awkwafina controversy, Awkwafina blaccent controversy, Awkwafina Black accent, Black cultural appropriation, indian express newsThe Golden Globe winning actor recently announced that she is taking a break from Twitter. (Photo: Instagram/@awkwafina)

Just like Blackfishing — which attempts to appropriate Black culture through hairstyles, makeup, etc. — a ‘blaccent’ is when a non-Black person imitates the way a Black person speaks. Simply put, blaccent — a combination of the words ‘Black’ and ‘accent’ — is deemed offensive and racist when a non-Black person uses it.

So, what led to Awkwafina quitting Twitter amid blaccent accusations? The Golden Globe winning actor, whose real name is Nora Lum, recently announced that she is taking a break from the social media app after facing criticism for using African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in recent years.

The actor, who is also a person-of-colour, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award — the ‘National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’ — in the US which is given to people with “outstanding performances in film, television, theatre, music, and literature”.

She took to Twitter to share a lengthy statement on the matter: “As a non-Black POC, I stand by the fact that I will always listen and work tirelessly to understand the history and context of AAVE, what is deemed appropriate or backwards toward the progress of ANY and EVERY marginalised group.

“But I must emphasise: To mock, belittle, or to be unkind in any way possible at the expense of others is: Simply. Not. My Nature. It never has, and it never was.”

The Crazy Rich Asians star also attempted to explain her use of ‘blaccent’ and AAVE, writing, “My immigrant background allowed me to carve an American identity off the movies and TV shows I watched, the children I went to public school with, and my undying love and respect for hip hop. I think, as a group, Asian Americans are still trying to figure out what that journey means for them.”

Speaking on the issue, author and activist Mikki Kendall told CNN, “‘Blaccent’ is a term describing the fake accent racists and cultural appropriators use when they mimic Black people. Black people have accents, but we don’t all have the same one and yet somehow those two groups always use the same accent when they imitate Black people.”

Slamming Awkwafina’s apology attempt on Twitter, African-American author Britni Danielle also shared her mind, writing, “Awkwafina could have just said: “You were right. I did use a blaccent to make a name for myself and that was wrong. I wholeheartedly apologize, and I’ll do better from now on.”

Here’s how some other people reacted:

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First published on: 09-02-2022 at 05:30:47 pm
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